The fast-growing foreign fashion and celebrity cult and their patronage by the Malaysian elite is a trend that is worth serious reflection lest they become synonymous with the upbeat mood inspired by globalisation – a mood which has the potential of drowning the PM’s call for glocalisation
The overriding claim that Malaysian fashion, in particular Islamic fashion, needs to be showcased regularly at home and abroad bears little sense when the lavish designs which appear on the catwalk are the very antithesis of Quranic teachings about modesty and restraint. Besides, the claim that there needs to be a global trend in Islamic dressing shows little regard for the uniqueness of each Islamic culture shaped by its own history and traditions. Malaysian Muslims dress in particular ways which make them outstanding among the other Muslim peoples.
Alarming too is the free ride taken by some charities on the fashion bandwagon. The fact that these charities support orphanages, diseases and disabilities makes fund-raising events like fashion shows incongruous to the cause. It then becomes unbearable to see a table of orphans, disabled children and their administrators being treated to ostentatious displays of decor and dress which they do not understand at all.
Another trend receiving much publicity is the import of foreign celebrities to promote a local cause. While the argument that these actors and singers and even politicians lend glamour to the event and bring in the corporate sponsorship, one wonders if this hijacking of the concept of corporate social responsibility is something Malaysia really wants or needs.
Corporate social responsibility must transcend token cheques doled out to prestigious organisations who have great financial resources to invite these prominent people. Small groups and individuals who want to contribute in some little way to society struggle for want of support.
It’s high time the movers and shakers of the public and private sectors rethink their strategies and spare a thought and some cash for those of us who want to effect change in little ripples. After all, if more people are committed to contribute their skills and expertise to make Malaysia a better place does this not reflect an egalitarian society where people are given equal opportunities?